Greinke has Hershiser's legendary streak in sight
Dodgers righty retires 28 straight batters, spread across two starts, for 'hidden' perfecto
WASHINGTON -- Unsure of what exactly was working best for his starting pitcher on a blistering Sunday at Nationals Park, newly inserted catcher A.J. Ellis was content to hand over the pitch-calling reins.
"I'm just going to follow your lead here," Ellis said after the Dodgers' 5-0 win over the Nationals, recalling a sixth-inning conversation with Zack Greinke after Ellis replaced injured Yasmani Grandal.
"It's pretty easy," Greinke responded. "All of my stuff is pretty nasty right now."
The conversation, which was protected with gloves over mouths, was no secret to either the helpless Nationals hitters or the 40,293 fans. After all, Greinke tossed eight innings to extend his scoreless streak to 43 2/3 innings, fourth longest since 1961 (the longest is 59 innings by the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in 1988). He didn't allow a baserunner until one out in the third inning, the first baserunner Greinke had allowed since the second inning of his previous start, a span of 28 batters -- the equivalent of a perfect game plus one more batter. He struck out 11. It's hard to hide such a performance.
"[They were] aggressive and I was making good pitches that were strikes for a long time and then just kind of went out of the zone at the last second," Greinke said.
While Greinke hasn't given his dominance a second thought -- "It has not crossed my mind at all," he said -- not allowing a run since June 13 has impressed almost everyone else, including his manager, Don Mattingly.
"It's speaking to how good he's pitching and how consistent he's been, really over the whole season," Mattingly said. "It's hard to be better than this."
After improving to 9-2, the All-Star starter for the National League claims baseball's best ERA (1.30), the lowest batting average against (.187) and the second-lowest WHIP (0.82).
On Sunday, the continuous zeros Greinke put up were necessary for more than just extending a streak or improving a stat line. They were needed to win a series.
Matched up against Max Scherzer, perhaps the No. 1 (b) pitcher in the NL if Greinke is No. 1 (a), both starters lived up to the hype. The only run either allowed came on a wild pitch from Scherzer in the fourth inning.
"I think when these kind of guys get together, Scherzer and him, they know they can't give up runs," Mattingly said. "And it looked like Zack came out of the gate knowing that he had to be sharp. And he was."